More favorite British movies

UNBORED is jam-packed with lists of our favorite songs, books, and movies. These lists weren’t exhaustive, though — because of space constraints, we couldn’t include all of our favorites.

We’re working on a British edition of UNBORED now — it will be published in 2013 — and one of the fun things about this new project is the opportunity to swap out some of our favorite American books and movies, on the book’s various lists, for some favorite British ones.

Here’s a sneak preview of some of the movies we’ll include in British edition of UNBORED


Directed by Charlie Chaplin

Before the English comic actor-director Charlie Chaplin famously put on boxing gloves in the 1931 classic City Lights, he poked fun at sports clichés and underdog stories in this short film about a boxer’s sparring partner who stuffs a horseshoe into his glove. Once he starts knocking everyone out with his super-punch, he is booked for a championship fight with a much larger, stronger opponent. Only his rubbery physical abilities — and his pet bulldog — can help him triumph.

Directed by Alfred Roome

Discharged from the military in disgrace, British intelligence officers and cricket enthusiasts Major Bright and Captain Early (Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne) set up a detective agency. Having accidentally come into possession of a cricket ball with a diamond hidden inside, Bright and Early (get it?) play in the barmiest cricket match of all time, one that is infiltrated by a jewel thief who also happens to be an escaped Nazi!

PS: Radford and Wayne were a cricket-mad double act in ten films, beginning with Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes.

Directed by Hugh Hudson

Harold Abrahams, who faces prejudice because of his Jewish ancestry, and Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish missionary to China, transcend their status as social outsiders when they compete as runners in the 1925 Olympic Games in Paris. Even before the climactic final races, there are many exciting athletic scenes, including: Abrahams and an aristocratic classmate dashing around the yard at Trinity College (Cambridge) before the clock strikes twelve times, and Liddell winning a race even after being tripped.

Directed by Bill Forsyth

John Gordon Sinclair plays Gregory, an awkward teenager at a state secondary school in the Scottish district of Cumbernauld. When Dorothy (Dee Hepburn), an athletic teenage girl, replaces him as center forward on the school football team, Gregory is crushed… and he develops a crush on her. Gregory asks Dorothy to teach him how to be a good goalie, which she does willingly; but when he asks her out on a date, she tricks him into dating another girl instead.

PS: This coming-of-age movie is not intended for a younger audience.


Directed by Peter Yates

During a wet British summer, London bus mechanic Don (singer Cliff Richard, who dominated the British pop music scene in the pre-Beatles period of the late 1950s and early ’60s) converts a double-decker bus into a holiday caravan… and drives it across Europe. He and his two pals, one of whom is played by Jeremy Bulloch (the actor inside the costume of the bounty hunter Boba Fett in the original Star Wars trilogy), are joined by three girls and a runaway singer pursued by her mother and agent. Four of the movie’s songs became chart-toppers in England; and several are accompanied by dance numbers — which contributed to its wild success.

PS: The irreverent 1980s British sitcom, The Young Ones, takes its name from another Cliff Richards musical. The success of these movies led Richard to be named the No. 1 cinema box office attraction in Britain… beating James Bond!

Directed by Robert Stevenson

This adaptation of English author Mary Norton’s wartime books The Magic Bed Knob; or, How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons (1943) and Bonfires and Broomsticks (1945) stars Angela Lansbury as apprentice witch Eglantine Price, and David Tomlinson as con artist Emelius Browne. During the 1940 London Blitz, three children are evacuated to Miss Price’s countryside home. She bewitches a bedknob, and the children’s bed turns into a flying machine — which the five characters use to gather more spells, which Miss Price then employs against German soldiers who have invaded England.

PS: The movie won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, and “The Age of Not Believing” received a nomination for Best Original Song.

Directed by Gurinder Chadha

Loosely based on Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice, this Bollywood-style English movie tells the story of farmer’s daughter Lalita Bakshi (Aishwarya Rai) who resists the advances of handsome and wealthy American Will Darcy (Martin Henderson). Darcy must learn to appreciate Indian culture before Lalita is won over. In the meantime, there is singing and dancing galore!

PS: Though set in India, the majority of the filming takes place in the UK.